South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe - all in one phenomenal tour!
Depart Johannesburg and travel via the Highveld region to the edge of the Drakensberg Escarpment, taking in some of the spectacular sights of the “Panorama Route” such as the MacMac, God’s Window and The Pinnacle rock formation. Overnight at the Graskop Hotel () in the town of Graskop.
We travel north through prime game country, via the towns of Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa, and enter the Kruger National Park (www.parks-sa.co.za) at the Phalaborwa Gate. A slow drive, game-viewing en route, to the Letaba Rest Camp, overlooking the Letaba River. Accommodation in comfortable, air-conditioned, en suite bungalows. Time to relax before heading out again on a late afternoon / evening game drive in search of Africa's "Big Five".
Kruger National Park. An early morning game drive, returning to camp for breakfast. Then we head south through the park, spotting game as we go, to the Satara Rest Camp. Bungalow accommodation. Relax before another afternoon / evening game drive.
Kruger National Park – Satara. Early morning game drive followed by brunch. Rest of day at leisure – relax, sit at the waterhole watching the animals come to drink, read, meditate etc. Tonight it’s an evening / night game drive, on an open vehicle with spotlights, a perfect opportunity to see the nocturnal animals – and the best chance of spotting the most elusive of the Big Five, the leopard.
Kruger National Park. We travel further south through the park to the Lower Sabie Rest Camp, on the banks of the Sabi River. Accommodation tonight in a luxury safari tent, en suite, with a view over the river. Game drives as per previous days.
Day 2 to 5
Combination of Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands.
Time for another country - Mozambique!! We exit Kruger at the Crocodile Bridge Gate in the extreme south-east, and cross the border into Mozambique at the Komatipoort / Ressano Garcia border post. On down to the fascinating coastal capital city, Maputo, a remarkable city with a strong Latin / African vibe. Check in to the Cardoso Hotel, a comfortable hotel with great views over Maputo Bay. Dinner tonight – it ought to be prawns or crayfish, or chicken piri-piri! – at one of the many fine restaurants. (www.hotelcardoso.com).
Maputo. City tour – per vehicle and on foot – including the Nossa Senhora de Conceicao Cathedral, the Jardim Tunduru botanical gardens (and the statue of Samora Machel, first post-independence Mozambique president), the CFM Railway Station and Casa de Ferro (designed by Gustav Eiffel), the magnificently colonial Polana Hotel and the Costa do Sol beachfront.
Today we travel north across the vast coastal plain that makes up most of the country, with its palm trees and old Portuguese villages and towns such as Marracuene, Manhica and Xai Xai. Today's destination is Barra Lodge (www.barraresorts.com), under coconut palms on the beach near the town of Inhambane. Time for a swim in the warm Indian Ocean, followed by a drink or two at the beach bar.
Barra Lodge. Day on the beach - or exploring the historic town of Inhambane, with its Arab and Portuguese architecture, yet strongly African feel!
Via Maxixe and Massinga to Vilanculos in time for the 14h15 CFA light-aircraft transfer to Mozambique's jewel, Bazaruto Island, and the stunning Bazaruto Lodge (www.pestana.com). After checking in, time to float around in the tropical waters, walk on snow white beaches or have a little cocktail or two at the bar!
Bazaruto Lodge. Full day in ABSOLUTE paradise! The range of optional activities is huge - diving, snorkeling around the coral reefs, water skiing, dune boarding, horse riding, guided island 4 X 4 drives to view the huge sand dunes, and lakes with their resident crocodiles etc!
Bazaruto Lodge. Damn, ANOTHER day in paradise!
We continue north, along Highway 1 via Maxixe and Massinga to the coastal town of Vilanculos, on the mainland opposite the incredible Bazaruto Archipelago of islands. Aguia Negra Lodge.
Vilanculos. Full-day boat trip with Odyssea Dive (www.odysseadive.com) to Bazaruto Island. The Bazaruto National Park has some of the best snorkeling that the East Coast of Africa has to offer - and regular encounters with Dolphins, and even the elusive Dugong occur. Apart from snorkeling at the “Aquarium” site, protected from the open sea by Two Mile Reef, snorkeling also occurs from the beach on Bazaruto. The middle of the day is spent relaxing on the beaches of Bazaruto or Pansy Island, and a climb up Bazaruto’s sand-dunes is a must! The power-boat crossing takes 45 minutes one-way – so plenty of time is spent out at the islands! On the return trip to the mainland, a stop is made on Benguerra Island.
Vilanculos. Full day at leisure – stroll along the beach, go horse-riding, take a dhow trip, watch the local fishermen or visit the buzzing village and markets.
South again, crossing the Limpopo River at the town of Xai Xai, and then down to the lagoon coast at Praia do Bilene. Overnight at the Praia do Sol Lodge (www.pdsol.co.za), on the edge of the Sao Martinho lagoon.
Flight from Vilanculos to Maputo, and overnight again at the Cardoso Hotel.
Today we travel via Maputo and the village of Boane to the Namaacha border post with Swaziland (that’s country number 3!), one of the smallest countries in Africa, and one of only three monarchies on the continent. Via the lowveld sugar estates, then we climb up the Escarpment to the famed Ezulwini Valley (“Valley of Heaven”) for craft and curio shopping – stopping at road-side craft markets as well as at the Swazi Candle Factory and at Ngwenya Glass. On to Mantenga Lodge for overnight. (www.mantengalodge.com)
Our last day sees us exit the kingdom of Swaziland and travel north-west through the Mpumalanga and Gauteng provinces to Johannesburg, arriving mid-day.